Emma Watson’s startling transformation from comely British schoolgirl to status obsessed SoCal party princess in Sophia Coppola’s gorgeous new cautionary tale, The Bling Ring isn’t the first time that an actor has thrown themself out of their comfort zone. In fact, since the dawn of Hollywood, performers have struggled to challenge the image that this industry, their fans, and the rest of America seem intent on fashioning them with.
Of course, when all goes right, careers can be made or solidified, and the true range of a particular actor is stunningly revealed. Here’s five recent examples of just that:
For all the ill will IMDb got during the recent lawsuit that accused the website of fostering ageism in Hollywood and the reveling personal details, it’s worth noting that The Los Angeles Times did a recent article about how IMDb Pro has helped actors profoundly in the past.
The prime example used in the article is Robert Pattinson, a virtual unknown before being cast in the starring role of the Twilight film series. When looking to cast the part, Summit Entertainment’s casting directors browsed IMDb when Pattinson’s name came up and based on the information on there decided to contact him. $3.3 billion dollars in box office money later, Pattinson is no longer an unknown. Read more
Mara Wilson is happy to prove that not all child stars end up like Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan. Wilson, who starred in Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda back in the 90s, is actually a successful writer and playwright. But she understands why most child stars have problems.
Wilson, who calls herself a ‘recovering child actor,’ remembers how hard it was to grow out of that cute phase. “You lose that praise. You lose what you had,” she said in an interview with NPR. “And you are so used to it; it’s almost like a drug. And all of a sudden it’s like withdrawal. You just go off of it, and you feel very rejected.”
The 25-year-old started acting as more of a hobby than a career choice. “I tried to take it seriously when I was on set and tried to be professional—as professional as a 6-year-old can be,” she said. “But I don’t think I really wanted to be an actor. When people asked me what I was going to do when I grow up, I always said, ‘I’m going to be a writer. I’m going to write screenplays. I’m going to write books. I’m going to write plays. That’s what I’m going to do.’” Read more
Interview: Brit Marling and Director Zal Batmanglij Talk ‘The East’, Their Writing Process and Acting Notebooks
The East is a new thriller from writer/director Zal Batmanglij and writer/actress Brit Marling that has Brit as an undercover agent at a private intelligence firm. She infiltrates a group called, The East, who has been targeting companies that pollute the environment. But, the longer her character is with the group, the the more she begins to sympathize with what they are doing.
The film also stars Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and our friend Shiloh Fernandez and it’s a really good film. If you’re looking for something that’ll give your brain some food instead of mindless summer action, definitely check it out.
I’ve talked to Brit three times and Zal twice and they are just such nice and normal people. Even more so now with all of the success they’ve had. They’re both incredibly smart and I love their films.
In the interview, we talk about writing the film and how they work together during that process, how Brit keeps acting notebooks for each project she’s working on and how they got the great cast for the film.
The East is currently playing in Los Angeles and New York. It opens wide this weekend.
It’s official: Jonah Hill is a serious actor. Sure, he might be co-starring in This Is The End and is likely returning for a sequel for 21 Jump Street, but in an interview with Rolling Stone Hill refuses to speak about his more famous filthy comedies and only wants to speak about his transition from comedian to serious actor in films like Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street.
When asked about how he managed to shed so many pounds from his once-chubby frame? He answers, “My workout routine is of little relevance.”
When asked about passing gas? He answers, “I’m not answering that dumb question! I’m not that kind of person! Being in a funny movie doesn’t make me have to answer dumb questions. It has nothing to do with who I am.” Read more
Last week, I analyzed examples of the most successful examples of star casting on Broadway in recent years. While those productions are on the top tier, other productions don’t fare as well – with some even closing early, which is usually considered a major embarrassment for the star in question in additional to the significant financial loses faced by the producers.
A recent example of a production that closed early is Orphans, which starred Alec Baldwin, which provides a microcosm of all the reasons why a production starring a famous actor can fail. Baldwin caused a minor commotion when he largely blamed the early closing of Orphans on New York Times critic Ben Brantley’s negative review. However, there are a myriad of other reasons that seem for more likely the cause of the early closure. First, it seems that the bad publicity stemming from Shia LaBeouf and Baldwin’s public feud – which both actors fed in the media – had a negative impact on potential audiences (in his rant Baldwin blamed this also, but didn’t exactly take his share of the blame). However, Baldwin’s $50,000 per week salary was more likely a major culprit considering that while Orphans sold well (an average of 82% capacity for its 64 performances), the average paid ticket price was $71.99, way below the top ticket price of $225. That indicates that few premium seats were bought at face value, which significantly hurt the amount of money the production made. Read more
The Tony Awards, the best of all the awards shows in my opinion, crowned their winners last night and Kinky Boots was the clear winner with 6 total awards. The new show by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein won Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Billy Porter, among others.
The big shocker of the night was Tom Hanks not winning Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. That went to Tracy Letts. I saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf last December and while I’m not a fan of Edward Albee, I have to say, the actors in the show were outstanding and I didn’t think Letts winning was a long-shot at all.
The actual show started off with a bang. Neil Patrick Harris‘ opening number was freakin’ gold as was two other numbers he did during the show. Aside from Annie with Jane Lynch, the numbers with the kids (Matilda, Christmas Story) I could have done without. And how bad was Bring It On? No wonder it closed early.
The musical number I thought killed was Kinky Boots. How great did that look? I haven’t seen the show yet, but one thing I loved was that the chorus look like normal people. They weren’t your typical showgirls, guys… all buffed-up dancers. They looked like me and you (I suppose). Stark Sands and Billy Porter rocked the number.
Below is the list of winner. Check it out! Read more
In the past few years it seems like a Hollywood star opens a play on Broadway on almost a monthly basis. While this is a huge boost for Broadway and New York City – think of how many people traveled to Manhattan just to see Tom Hanks on stage in the last few weeks – the trend of “star casting” is controversial among Broadway regulars, many of whom see it as outsider stars jacking up ticket prices and “taking away” roles from legitimate Broadway actors for huge paychecks.
In fact, because of stars’ salaries – actors like Tom Hanks and Al Pacino are paid upwards of $100,000 per week on Broadway – a detractor might question if spending all that money on a star is even worth it for producers when profit margins in the Broadway business are often razor thin.
Though star casting has a long history in New York (for example, Jackie Gleason did lengthy Broadway runs while he was a television superstar), I looked at the box office data from The Broadway League of select productions from the last five seasons (May 2008-May 2013) to see how effective star casting has been in recent years. I looked at three primary figures: the total number of performances (including previews), the percentage of seats filled (capacity), and the average purchased ticket price. The last figure is important because a star could be playing to 80% full houses and the production could still fail because the 20% unsold are the $200+ premium seats that need to sell to cover the star’s big salary. Read more
I know what you’re thinking — I’ve seen Hamlet before. But if the world made more sense, buses of high schoolers and college kids who are studying Shakespeare would show up at the Sargent Theatre to experience Shakespeare with this engrossing production of Hamlet from The Seeing Place instead of experiencing his work through Sparknotes (or worse, Wikipedia).
The great thing about writing a review of Hamlet is that I don’t have to write a plot summary. Its language is so ingrained in our culture that probably everyone uses a phrase from its text daily without even realizing it (I always loved the Isaac Asimov quote, “There is the story of the woman who read Hamlet for the first time and said, ‘I don’t see why people admire that play so. It is nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together.’”) The Seeing Place presents a very contemporary version of Hamlet, yet at the same time the group adheres to some Shakespearean traditions. Like in Shakespeare’s day, the supporting actors double roles (in one particular smart match, David Arthur Bachrach plays the ghost of Hamlet’s father and also the Player King, who is a stand-in for Hamlet’s father in the play-within-a-play “The Mousetrap.” Oh yeah, he also makes a fantastic Gravedigger.) Read more
Written by Amy Lyndon, Founder & CEO of The Lyndon Technique
On my way back from an audition last week it occurred to me that I spent the better part of my 20’s and 30’s uttering the phrase, “It’s not fair.” I was so busy looking at the success of other actors that I didn’t realize that it was actually chipping away at my confidence and self-esteem.
Once an actor figures out that the only career that makes sense is to be an actor, they come to realize that it’s not a 9 – 5 job, instead they have to build something out of nothing and it’s up to them to make that career happen. Most of us weren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouth and we oftentimes look to those that have had a seemingly easy road with envy. Well, the truth is, success is never an easy road however you slice it. Everyone’s journey is different. Once you start comparing yourself to another person you are sure to have major disappointments and depression.
I have since learned that it’s more fulfilling to be inspired by the success of others then to wish that you had their career. The truth is – you never know about another person until you walk in their shoes. So what if your journey is hard. Anything worth having is hard. Seriously, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Read more